Three-I League
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Three-I League
Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League
No. of teams31 Cities
Most titles8 Evansville Braves/ Bees/ Hubs (1957, 1956, 1954, 1952, 1949, 1941, 1938, 1930)
ClassificationD (1901) B (1902-1961)

The Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League was a Minor League Baseball organization that operated for the better part of 60 years, mostly in those three states. The league began play in 1901 and disbanded after the 1961 season. It was popularly known as the Three-I League and sometimes jokingly as the Three-Eye League.


The Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League was founded in 1901 with Rock Island, IL native Michael H. Sexton serving as President. Eight charter members began play in 1901: the Bloomington Blues, Cedar Rapids Rabbitts, Davenport River Rats, Decatur Commodores, Evansville River Rats, Rock Island Islanders, Rockford Red Sox and Terre Haute Hottentots.[1]Bloomington, Illinois, Decatur, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana had left the Central League to join expansion teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Davenport, Iowa, Evansville, Indiana, Rockford, Illinois, and Rock Island, Illinois and form the Class D league. Two expansion teams, Davenport and Evansville, chose "River Rats" as their team name.[2] For the second season, 1902, the league became Class B, a classification it retained for the next 59 seasons of league operation.[3]

The Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League was inactive during some years of World War I (1918), the Great Depression (1933-1934, 1936) and World War II (1943-1945), similar to many minor leagues that were forced to suspend operations or disband during those severe times.[2][4]

As with many minor leagues, especially at the lower classifications, league membership fluctuated a great deal over its six decades. Overall, the league hosted teams in 31 cities during its existence.[5] At various times it had teams in such medium-sized cities as Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Bloomington, Decatur, Danville, Peoria, Springfield, Evansville and Terre Haute. It was a Class B league in the old classification system that ran from Class D up to Class Triple-A.

The 1955 Keokuk Kernels are ranked #30 in the Top-100 All Time teams by[6] The Kernels finished with a 92-34 record and were led by Russ Nixon and Mudcat Grant.[6]

Since 1956 its territory had largely been supplanted by the Midwest League, which began in 1947 as the Class D Illinois State League. After 1956 there were no Illinois or Indiana teams in the league. The final 1961 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League franchises were the Fox Cities Foxes, Burlington Bees, Topeka Reds, Lincoln Chiefs, Cedar Rapids Braves and Des Moines Demons.[7] In 1962, Appleton (Fox Cities), Burlington, and Cedar Rapids joined the Midwest League and the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League folded operations when those franchises switched leagues.[8]

The league's unique name made it a convenient reference point for any mention of the minor leagues. Casey Stengel made the following comment in later life, evidently still feeling stung from having been traded by the New York Giants to the Boston Braves in the 1923-1924 off-season, despite having hit 2 game-winning home runs in the World Series: "It's lucky I didn't hit 3 home runs in three games, or McGraw would have traded me to the 3-I League!"

Three-I Most Valuable Players

Year By Year (1901-1932)

1901 Terre Haute won the title behind the impressive pitching of Mordecai Brown, future Chicago Cubs mound star.


1903 Evansville and Terre Haute joined the Central League. New teams in Dubuque, Iowa and Joliet, Illinois formed. Joliet, with a record of 14-19, moved to Springfield, Illinois on June 12, where they had a record of 28-61.


1905 The Rockford team folded, and a new team in Peoria, Illinois formed.

After the season ended, Cedar Rapids lost to the Burlington, Iowa team from the Iowa State League 4 games to 3.



The Davenport team folded. The team from Clinton, Iowa joined after leaving the Iowa State League.


1909 The Clinton team folded. A new team in Davenport, Iowa formed.

1910 After the previous disappointing season, Cedar Rapids folded. The Decatur team moved to the Northern Association. The team from Waterloo, Iowa left the Central Association to join here. A new team from Danville, Illinois formed and joined the league as well.

1911 The team from Bloomington folded. The Quincy, Illinois team from the Central Association joined the league. The Springfield team, with a 12-4 record, moved to Decatur, Illinois on May 31, where their record was 57-56.

1912 The teams from Rock Island and Waterloo folded. New teams from Springfield, Illinois and Bloomington, Indiana joined the league.


1914 The Danville team, with a record of 26-53, moved to Moline, Illinois on July 14, where their record was 20-33.

1915 The Springfield team folded. A new team in Rockford, Illinois formed. Dubuque moved to Freeport, Illinois during the season. The Decatur team folded on August 10. The league adopted a playoff system in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season would play the team with the best record in the second half of the season.

Moline beat Davenport 4 games to 2 for the title.

1916 The Freeport team folded. New teams in Hannibal, Missouri and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. The playoff system was apparently dropped.

1917 The Davenport team folded. A new team in Alton, Illinois formed and joined the league.

1918 The league suspended operations because of World War I.

1919 The teams in Alton, Hannibal, Quincy, and Rock Island folded. New teams in Evansville, Indiana and Terre Haute, Indiana formed and joined the league.

1920 New teams in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois formed and joined the league. Evansville changed their names to the "Evas".


1922 The teams in Cedar Rapids and Rock Island moved to the Mississippi Valley League. New teams in Danville and Decatur formed and joined the league.


1924 The Rockford team folded. The Moline team moved to the Mississippi Valley League.

1925 New teams in Quincy and Springfield formed and joined the league.


Springfield played Bay City of the Michigan State League and won 4 games to none. They were leading against Des Moines of the Western League 3 games to 1 when the series was canceled due to cold weather.


1928 The league returned to the playoff format in which the team with the best record in the first half of the season played the team with the best records in the second half of the season for the title.

Decatur Commodores 81-49 (2nd half winner)
Terre Haute Tots 75-59 (1st half winner)
Danville Veterans 69-57
Peoria Tractors 69-66
Evansville Hubs 62-68
Bloomington Bloomers 61-69
Springfield Senators 60-79
Quincy Indians 50-85

Decatur beat Terre Haute for the title 4 games to 1, with 1 tie.

1929 Two teams with the nickname "Tractors" played in the league this season.

Quincy played Canton of the Central League after the season ended and lost 4 games to 2.

1930 The league returned to the best record in the 1st half vs. best record in the 2nd half playoff system.

Evansville Hubs 79-55 (2nd half winner)
Quincy Indians 78-58
Decatur Commodores 77-59
Danville Veterans 71-67 (1st half winner)
Springfield Senators 62-70
Peoria Tractors 57-77
Bloomington Cubs 57-78
Terre Haute Tots 53-76

Danville defeated Evansville 4 games to 2 for the title. Danville went on to play Springfield of the Central League and lead 3 games to 2 when the series was cancelled because of poor attendance.


Springfield Senators 72-45 (1st half winner)
Quincy Indians 67-49 (2nd half winner)
Evansville Hubs 67-58
Decatur Commodores 64-57
Bloomington Cubs 58-61
Terre Haute Tots 55-68
Peoria Tractors 51-68
Danville Veterans 44-72

Quincy beat Springfield 4 games to 2 for the championship.

1932 The teams in Bloomington and Evansville folded before the season, and the Springfield and Decatur teams folded on July 12.

Team Name Affiliation Record
Terre Haute Tots 42-27 (1st half winner)
Peoria Tractors 20-38 (2nd half winner)
Quincy Indians Cleveland Indians 38-31
Danville Veterans St. Louis Cardinals 29-39
Springfield Senators 32-37
Decatur Commodores 24-43

The Terre Haute, Peoria, Quincy, and Danville teams all folded on July 15, as did the league itself. The league was restarted in 1935, 1937-1942, and 1946-1961.

All former teams (1901-1961)

Alton, Illinois
* Alton Blues, 1917
Bloomington, Illinois
* Bloomington Blues, 1901-1902
* Bloomington Bloomers, 1903-1910, 1912-1917,
1919-1929, 1935, 1938-1939
* Bloomington Cubs, 1930-1931
* Bloomington Bengals, 1937
Burlington, Iowa
* Burlington Flints, 1952-1953
* Burlington Bees, 1954-1961
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
* Cedar Rapids Rabbits, 1901-1909, 1920-1921
* Cedar Rapids Raiders, 1938-1942, 1957
* Cedar Rapids Indians, 1950-1954
* Cedar Rapids Braves, 1958-1961
Clinton, Iowa
* Clinton Infants, 1907-1908
* Clinton Owls, 1937-1938
* Clinton Giants, 1939-1941
Danville, Illinois
Danville Speakers, 1910-1914
Danville Veterans, 1922-1932
Danville Dodgers, 1946-1950
Davenport, Iowa
* Davenport River Rats, 1901-1904
* Davenport Riversides, 1905
* Davenport Knickerbockers, 1906
* Davenport Prodigals, 1909-1912
* Davenport Blue Sox, 1913-1916
* Davenport Cubs, 1946-1947
* Davenport Pirates, 1948-1949
* Davenport Quads, 1950
* Davenport Tigers, 1951-1952
* Davenport DavSox, 1957-1958
Decatur, Illinois
* Decatur Commodores, 1901-1909, 1912-1915, 1922-1932,
1935, 1937-1942, 1946-1947, 1950
* Decatur Nomads, 1911
* Decatur Commies, 1948
* Decatur Cubs, 1949

Des Moines, Iowa
* Des Moines Demons, 1959-1961
Dubuque, Iowa
* Dubuque Shamrocks, 1903-1905
* Dubuque Dubs, 1906-1910, 1912-1915
* Dubuque Hustlers, 1911
Evansville, Indiana
* Evansville River Rats, 1901-1902
* Evansville Evas, 1919-1923
* Evansville Little Evas, 1924
* Evansville Pocketeers, 1925
* Evansville Hubs, 1926-1931
* Evansville Bees, 1938-1942
* Evansville Braves, 1946-1957
Fort Wayne, Indiana
* Fort Wayne Chiefs, 1935
Appleton, Wisconsin
* Fox Cities Foxes, 1959-1961
Freeport, Illinois
* Freeport Comeons, 1915
Green Bay, Wisconsin
* Green Bay Bluejays, 1958-1959
* Green Bay Dodgers, 1960
Hannibal, Missouri
* Hannibal Mules, 1916-1917
Joliet, Illinois
* Joliet Standards, 1903
Keokuk, Iowa
* Keokuk Kernels, 1952-1957
Lincoln, Nebraska
* Lincoln Chiefs, 1959-1961
Madison, Wisconsin
* Madison Blues, 1940-1942
Moline, Illinois
* Moline Plowboys, 1914-1917, 1919-1923, 1937-1941
Peoria, Illinois
* Peoria Distillers, 1905-1917
* Peoria Tractors, 1919-1932, 1935
* Peoria Reds, 1937
* Peoria Chiefs, 1953-1957

Quincy, Illinois
* Quincy Infants, 1911
* Quincy Old Soldiers, 1912
*Quincy Gems, 1913-1917, 1946-1956
* Quincy Red Birds, 1925-1927
* Quincy Indians, 1928-1932
Rochester, Minnesota
* Rochester A's, 1958
Rock Island, Illinois
* Rock Island Islanders, 1901-1911, 1916-1917, 1921
Rockford, Illinois
* Rockford Red Sox, 1901-1904
* Rockford Wakes, 1915-1916
* Rockford Rox, 1917, 1919-1923
Sioux City, Iowa
* Sioux City Soos, 1959-1960
Springfield, Illinois
* Springfield Foot Trackers, 1903
* Springfield Hustlers, 1904
* Springfield Senators, 1905-1912, 1925-1932, 1935
* Springfield Watchmakers, 1913-1914
* Springfield Browns, 1938-1942, 1946-1949
Terre Haute, Indiana
* Terre Haute Hottentots, 1901-1902
* Terre Haute Browns, 1919-1920
* Terre Haute Tots, 1921-1932, 1935, 1937
* Terre Haute Phillies, 1946-1954
* Terre Haute Tigers, 1955-1956
Topeka, Kansas
* Topeka Hawks, 1959
* Topeka Reds, 1960-1961
Waterloo, Iowa
* Waterloo Boosters, 1910-1911
* Waterloo Red Hawks, 1938-193
* Waterloo Hawks, 1940-1942, 1947
* Waterloo White Hawks, 1946, 1948-1956
Winona, Minnesota
* Winona A's, 1958


  1. ^ "1901 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League -".
  2. ^ a b "Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (D) Encyclopedia and History -".
  3. ^ "Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League (B) Encyclopedia and History -".
  4. ^ "Register League Encyclopedia -".
  5. ^ Batterson, Steve. "Era comes to close for Q-C minor league baseball".
  6. ^ a b "Top 100 Teams - History - The Official Site of Minor League Baseball".
  7. ^ "1961 Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League -".
  8. ^ "Midwest League (A) Encyclopedia and History -".
  9. ^ "Three-I Loop MVP to Ward". News-Record. Neenah. September 3, 1960. p. 5 – via

External links

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